Wednesday, September 1, 2010

John MacLean

John MacLean was a very good player in many aspects of the game. But first and foremost he was a goal scorer.

Through nineteen NHL seasons, fourteen of which were spent in New Jersey where he is best remembered, MacLean played 1,194 games, scoring 413 goals and adding 429 assists for 842 career points. He was incredibly consistent, reaching the twenty-goal mark eleven times through his illustrious career. He once held New Jersey team records for goals in a season (45) and career goals (347). He would shoot anywhere and anytime, getting away exceptionally heavy and accurate wrist and slapshots with an amazingly quick release. He was especially deadly on the power play, preferring to set up on the right side of the slot.

Of all the goals he scored in New Jersey there will be forever one goal remembered above all others. In a game against Chicago on April 3, 1988, the final game of that regular season, MacLean scored the overtime winning goal that launched the Devils into their very first playoff berth. Here's the video:

It was an amazing moment, especially for long suffering Devils fans and players. The Devils had had basically no success prior to this magical marker. Finally this moment had come, and in such dramatic fashion to boot. The Devils even rode the momentum deep into the playoffs, surprising everybody.

MacLean also was known for his good size and his willingness to initiate physical play. He never had much speed or agility in his skating (especially after losing a season to reconstructive knee surgery in 1991-92), but he had amazing balance, allowing him to win his share of loose pucks in the corners. He was an intensely determined competitor, never betraying the necessary style of play that brought him so much success: shoot and hit.

He was not very creative nor exceptionally spectacular. But he scored some big goals, leaving the Devils owning or sharing franchise records for most career points (701), most career goals (347), most career assists (354), most career power-play goals (92), most career playoff points (75), most career power-play points (197), most career game-winning goals (55), most career hat tricks (6), most goals in a season (45) and most career playoff goals (36)

He will forever be one of the great players in New Jersey Devils history. He had the heart of the lion, and was the soul of Devils.


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